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Big Era Six The Great Global Convergence 1400 – 1800 CE

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  • World History for Us All A project of San Diego State University

    In collaboration with the National Center for History in the Schools (UCLA)

    Big Era Six The Great Global Convergence

    1400 1800 CE

    Landscape Teaching Unit 6.2 The Columbian Exchange and Its Consequences

    1400 1650

    Table of Contents Why this unit? 2 Unit objectives 3 Time and materials 3 Author 4 The historical context 4 This unit in the Big Era timeline 9 Lesson 1: The Great Dying 10 Lesson 2: Animals, Plants, People, and Goods on the Move 34 Assessment 63 This unit and the Three Essential Questions 64 This unit and the Seven Key Themes 64 This unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking 64 Resources 65 Correlations to National and State Standards 68 Conceptual links to other lessons 69

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    Why this unit? During the period 1492-1650, America was the site of developments that would later have great importance not only for that continent but also for Afroeurasia and indeed the whole planet. The Columbian Exchange was linked to demographic, economic, and power-distribution changes. At this time and place emerged the seeds of American wealth, European imperialism and economic domination, and what we call globalization. However, these did not flower, let alone bear fruit, until hundreds of years later. The linking of America with Afroeurasia by way of both the Atlantic and the Pacific treated in Landscape Teaching Unit 6.1, and the resulting crossings to and fro of plants, animals, germs, people, and goods that are the focus of this Unit, had the following effects and long-term implications:

    They initiated the largest demographic catastrophe in the known history of the world. This happened because of the introduction of Afroeurasian diseases to immunity-lacking Amerindian populations. The consequent high mortality rates of American Indians, to which was added European mistreatment, made possible the rapid European conquests in the New World.

    They promoted the circulation of goods along a web of trade routes linking Africa,

    Europe, Asia, and America in every direction, eased by the flood of silver emerging from American mines.

    They made possible the exchange of food plants between America and Afroeurasia.

    This, in turn, made possible growing nutritious or useful crops in previously non-productive parts of ecosystems. This resulted in an increase, by the mid-seventeenth century, in the health and numbers of the population in various areas of the world.

    They began the process of increasing reliance on slave labor in America, which would

    eventually result in millions of Africans being carried off to the New World, where they and their children would work and die as slaves to the benefit of their captors, sellers, and owners. In the process, some African states would become richer and more powerful, while others would decline.

    They shifted the commerce of both Europe and West Africa significantly towards the

    Atlantic, though for Europe the Mediterranean and the Baltic, and for East Africa the Indian Ocean maritime routes remained important. Also, a lively commerce between China and the Americas became established.

  • World History for Us All Big Era 6 Landscape 2 Page 3

    They provided the extraordinary income from silver that financed the maintenance of the Spanish empire in Europe, which declined in sync with the decline in the production and premium value of silver.

    They helped China to a huge expansion of its already wide commercial activity by

    supplying much of the silver its growing population needed for ordinary domestic buying and selling and that merchants needed for multiplying international transactions. The growth of trade stimulated Chinese production of items in demand abroad. Chinese population growth owing to the establishment there of high-calorie American plants, such as the sweet potato, led to increased domestic demand, which stimulated production for home consumption.

    When the Chinese satisfied their demand for silver, they no longer paid for it twice the

    price it fetched in Europe. Silver lost about two-thirds of its buying power, causing significant ripple effects in the incomes of the Spanish, Ottoman, and Chinese governments that had mandated their taxes to be paid in silver.

    Unit objectives Upon completing this unit, students will be able to: 1. Analyze the causes and severity of Native American mortality rates from 1500 to 1650. 2. Describe the contributions of Afroeurasia and the Americas to the biological exchanges of

    plants, animals, humans, and germs initiated by the permanent linking of these two regions. 3. Explain the consequences for global trade of linking America and Afroeurasia with each


    4. Evaluate the moral significance of a) massive die-off of American Indian populations in the period 1500-1650 and b) the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans.

    5. Assess documentary and numerical evidence for reliability, and explain reasons for serious

    disagreements among historians about the size of Native American populations before and after contact with newcomers from Afroeurasia.

    Time and materials This unit is versatile. The variety and number of student readings, discussion questions, and activities provided are meant to give teachers the choice to use those most suited to their students, interests, and circumstances.

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    Time taken will vary depending on teachers selections of the materials provided, on how long is spent on them, and on whether the Student Handouts and some of the activities can be assigned as homework. Each of the two Lessons, and even parts of each, could be used alone. The basics could be covered with Student Handouts 1.1, 2.1, and 2.3, and a choice from among their associated questions and activities, in two to three forty-five-minute class periods. Using Student Handouts 1.2 and 1.3 and their questions and activities could be tailored to an additional class period, as could Student Handout 2.4 with its questions and activities. No materials are needed other than pencil and paper.

    Author The author of this unit is Anne Chapman, retired after teaching high school history for over thirty years. She has served as a history education consultant to the College Board, the Educational Testing Service, and the National Center for History in the Schools. In the 1990s she was a member of the National History Standards World History Task Force. She wrote Coping with Catastrophe: The Black Death of the 14th Century; Women at the Heart of War, 1939-1945; and Human Rights in the Making: The French and Haitian Revolutions for the National Center for History in the Schools. She also edited a volume of World History: Primary Source Readings for West Publishing and has written several Teaching Units for the World History for Us All curriculum.

    The historical context The year 1402 has been called by some the birth year of European imperialism. That was the year when a French expedition, backed by Spain, invaded one of the seven Canary Islands just off the North African coast. The Europeans conquered it, in spite of resistance by some 300 native people, named the Guanches by the invaders. The intruders then went on to gradually take over other islands in the group and continued to hold on to them in the name of the Spanish Crown. This was the first attempt to plant a permanent European population on extra-continental territory since the Christian Crusading States were founded on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean in the eleventh-thirteenth centuries. Those colonies foundered owing to their inability to reproduce in sufficient numbers, to attract enough replacement population, and to generate enough supplies from home to maintain the European presence in Southwest Asia. They suffered attrition from having to defend their settlements from the surrounding Muslim population, who were self-confident, militant, and much more numerous. Culturally and biologically, the Crusaders were poorly adapted to their environment. They were unwilling to marry the local Christian women, because they were Nestorian, Greek, or Syrian Christians, not Roman Catholics. They were generally reluctant to adopt local clothing and customs better suited to the climate than their European ones. And they suffered more than the natives from malaria and other local parasitic or infectious diseases.

  • World History for Us All Big Era 6 Landscape 2 Page 5

    Several nations in the fifteenth century had their eye on the Canaries, known to Europe for several centuries. The Portuguese seriously tried to seize the islands several times. One of their invading forces numbered 2,500 infantry and 120 horses. Their attempt, as well as numerous others, failed. But the Spanish continued to